i have a seven year itch

Last week, my husband Jon and I celebrated 7 years of marriage, and in June, we marked 10 years of togetherness.

Everyone jokes about the 7 Year Itch. But I have it, y’all.

seven-year

Except…it’s on my finger.

First photo with my ring after we got engaged in 2006.
First photo with my ring after we got engaged in 2006.

You see, somewhere in the last year, I developed an allergy* to my white gold wedding rings. Sure, some skeevy dudes may say they’re “allergic” to their rings, when really they’re not wearing them so they can mac on chicks, but this is no lie. Wearing my rings has started to cause my finger to immediately break out into a red, bumpy, itchy rash. I figured out it was the gold because my silver stacking rings, a Valentine’s gift that I wear on my right hand, don’t cause the same problem.

“I’m allergic to my wedding rings,” I announced to my doctor hubby one day, showing him the rash. He asked if I meant symbolically or literally, but thank goodness, the only itch I’ve got is the one on my finger. I’m not itching to get out of our relationship or marriage at all.

And my best friend and hubby was handy in diagnosing my problem too. It turns out it’s fairly common for people to develop allergies to the nickel used as an alloy with the gold to make it strong enough to stand up to the wear and tear it gets as jewelry. But he’s seen enough nickel allergies to know I don’t have it, since nickel is also commonly used in the hardware on things like jeans, and I don’t develop a similar rash to the rivet on the waistband of my blue jeans. Also, the gold posts on my pearl earrings have started irritating my ears, too. So, I am forced to conclude, I’m having an issue with gold, not nickel.

I’ve taken to wearing one of my silver stacking bands on my left hand as a placeholder, but I’d really like to get back to wearing my rings again. I hear a temporary solution is to coat the ring in clear nail polish, and a permanent one is to get it plated with rhodium.

As for seven years, I’m happy to celebrate how far we’ve come. Becoming parents has truly been the hardest thing our partnership has endured, far more stressful than moving cross country, grief, and trauma. Still, there’s no one else I’d rather be raising my family and living alongside.

wedding

We celebrated lucky number seven with a little road trip to Texas, spending a night in a bed and breakfast in Dallas, checking out the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and the Dallas Museum of Art, and then continuing to Austin for LOTS of tacos, a visit to the LBJ library (thankfully for me, my husband indulges my political geekery), visiting with friends, seeing the bats, and eating some BBQ. It was a lovely getaway, and we’re super thankful that family took care of our kids and pets so we could get that time together.

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We stayed at the lovely Corinthian Bed and Breakfast in Dallas.
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Beautiful glass work by Dale Chihuly at the DMA.
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Visiting the LBJ library on the UT campus. He passed such an amazing amount of progressive policy!
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Pretty sure Jon wanted to keep the Jeep we rented for the trip.
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Stopped by Wendy Davis’ office, and even though she wasn’t in, some of her staff let me take a picture in her office. Big fan!

*Allergies can develop at any time, even after years of exposure without event to the allergen. This is why when people tell me they “aren’t allergic” to something like poison ivy, I always tell them, just wait! With enough exposures, you’ll eventually trigger a reaction!

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now we’re 5

Because we were in Costa Rica for our anniversary, I didn’t get to do a post like I usually do on July 29th commemorating 5 years of marriage to Jon. But, we got to be in Costa Rica for our anniversary, so that’s pretty awesome. We constantly talk about the kind of life we want together “someday” when he’s finally done with medical training and I’m finally done with school, and in looking at the kind of goals we set for ourselves: simple living, being generous with others, living in a way that is good to the environment, we’ve realized that the people we were 5 years ago wouldn’t be having these sorts of dreams for the future. We’ve changed a lot in our time together, which I guess is to be expected when I met my true love at the age of 18 and got married at the ripe old age of 21 (Jon’s 5 years older). I think we’ve both changed each other for the better, and I’m sure there’s lots of change still ahead of us. I’m sure glad we can keep growing together, forever. I know I can face anything as long as I’ve got my best friend by my side.

On a bench in a park in downtown San Jose. Everywhere we looked, couples were making out in public. That's not quite our style, so this was our contribution.

 

Ignoring the cheesy images, here’s a song to dedicate to the one I love, “Loving a Person” by Sara Groves, a favorite of mine:

8 years of summer lovin’

8 years ago, I got a call from the summer camp where I’d been a camper, saying they were short on counselors, and even though I was technically a year too young to be a counselor (they want college freshmen, I had just graduated from high school and wasn’t eligible til the next summer), and I hadn’t even applied for a job, did I want to work there for the summer? I jumped at the chance for a summer of fun, and my first day there, met the hottest guy I’d ever seen, no lie. It turns out he thought I was pretty cute, too, and within 24 hours, we were smoochin’ and smitten. 8 years later, he’s still the hottest guy I’ve ever seen. I’m so glad he’s mine.

Summer 2003.

 

These days.

Do I get a diploma now?

Today I have been married for four years. Or, as I like to say, I’ve put in enough time to have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Marriage to Jon O. I’m thinking it’s a BA, because marriage is more an art than a science- what works for us may not work for anyone else, but 4 years in, I pretty well know what works for us.  I guess I’m now working on my Master’s, and I’m planning to go for a Ph.D. After that, I guess I’ll have to find a new metaphor!

I’ve been thinking about weddings a lot this week.  Last Saturday, I went to the wedding of a dear friend, a friend who had been a bridesmaid in my wedding.  It was a lovely, joyous occasion, and being there, I have to say the ceremony was just SO HER, so true to who my friend is as an exuberant, whimsical, beautiful, and loving person. I got teared up as they said their vows, and I grinned with true, shared joy as they walked down the aisle as husband and wife to the music of “All You Need Is Love” complete with live marimba, trombone, piano, and violin accompaniment.  Later, I told my husband that I think I need to arrange to go to a wedding the week of our anniversary every year, because they remind me what a special joy it is to be married.

Then, a few days ago, I tweeted something about my disgust at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding costing over $4 million.  Many of my “tweeps” joined in my disgust, and a few shared how they managed to pull off astonishingly cheap weddings.  Like, less than $50, cheap.  I like to think I had a pretty inexpensive wedding, but the truth is, our event probably cost our families around the national average when all was said and done. I’d like to see a poll of my tweeps’ wedding costs when controlled for an average ceremony and reception, because those who eloped were really throwing off the curve. And of course, all the cheap wedding talk led to someone wondering if she was a bad person because she had a more expensive wedding.  To which I say: of course not.  If you’ve got the money to spend and a vision to execute, more power to ya, enjoy your day. I certainly did. (And I’m not really as grossed out by Chelsea Clinton’s $4 million wedding now that I’ve been reminded that she’s throwing a shindig that will be attended by dignitaries and heads of state accustomed to a certain standard of accommodation.)

While I’m well aware that people in this country all too often focus on the wedding instead of the marriage, looking back at my wedding, I think it well-represented who we are as a couple, both then and now. I thought I’d share a few aspects.

In my life, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family and a wonderful church family, all of whom had a hand in raising me, and all of whom share credit for the person I’ve become.  To grow up in a strong church family is a huge blessing, and everyone at Westminster Presbyterian Church really came together to make my special day a true “family” affair. We were married in the church I grew up in, and my church family had a hand in every aspect of our wedding.  As a small example, when, at the last minute, we realized the bouquets and boutonnieres had not arrived for the ceremony (long story, maybe I’ll tell you sometime), a woman of the church hurried into the reception hall, gathered up any extra flowers she could get her hands on, and stuck stems in the pockets of all the groomsmen.  She tied ribbons around white chrysanthemums for all the bridesmaids, and she quickly fashioned a bouquet for me.  While they weren’t the hand-tied mini white calla lilies I had envisioned, I had flowers in my hands and a smile on my face when I went down the aisle, and no one knew they weren’t the flowers I had planned on.  I had no time to worry, and no need to, because I was surrounded by people who loved us and who were taking care of us. I know that those people surround and care for us to this day.

Another thing that was very important to us was that our wedding be first and foremost a service of worship for the God who taught us to love and brought us together and blessed us so richly.  Led by a dear friend and Jon’s sister, we sang both modern praise and worship songs (more Jon’s style) and favorite hymns (more mine).  We were even beautifully serenaded by Jon’s best friend and best man, who sang “Ave Maria.”  After the wedding, several friends and even our wedding photographer remarked on the genuine and joyful faith they had seen on display both in the ceremony and over the weekend with our families. I’m pretty sure our photographer was introduced to Jesus for the first time at our wedding!

Jon and I met while working as counselors at a Presbyterian summer camp, so it was only right that the camp director performed our wedding.  Knowing David, who has a penchant for preaching parables entirely in alliteration, I knew we’d get a very unique message on our special day, and he did not disappoint.  He centered his message on lessons from camp that apply to marriage.  Here’s part of what he said:

(1) Feed the Untraditional. If there is any adjective we can all agree on to describe Jesus, it is that he was “untraditional.” He did things differently. He shattered traditions. He said things in new ways. I think this is what makes camp so powerful. The same message, but shared in a new context with a different vocabulary and lived out in community. I encourage you to finds ways to keep your faith and marriage fresh. Look for new wineskins. Hold fast to your faith, but don’t mistake the packaging for the real thing. Jesus had harsh words for the traditionalists. Those he hung with were the marginalized. Keep your faith untraditional and fresh.
(2) Find some wilderness places. Ask a camper what their favorite part of camp was and you’ll get a variety of answers, swimming, games, camping out, capture the flag, but ask a counselor, and one response dominates. They like FOB. Flat On Bunk, that time after lunch when you go back to the cabin for rest time. It is time to recharge and renew. Marriages need FOB as well. We may not get it after lunch each day, but we need to find it somewhere. Jesus had only three years of ministry to share the Good News and change the world, yet we constantly find him sneaking away for time away to reflect and renew; to step back and refocus; to be intentional about his relationship with God and listen for direction.
You two face busy times ahead. School, marriage, and real life are coming at you. Times of stress and times when the demands of the world seem to press in from all sides. Jesus always got away to wilderness and natural places….mountain tops, sea shores, desserts, and gardens. Find the time and places that help you stay grounded and well-rounded. Take FOB time to cultivate your relationship with each other and your relationship with your Creator.
(3) Finally, Form Your Own Family Group. One of the things about camp that makes it so impacting is that we form family groups and for that week of camp they share meals, activities, worship. They live together 24 hours a day in community so they see each other as they really are. Each person has to give of themselves to make it work. In a way it is a microcosm of life and of marriage. You are forming your own family group and God will now see you as one unit. You are giving each other the greatest gift possible – yourself – even as Christ gave himself for the church. It is the marriage relationship that Scripture chooses to use as its model for the relationship between Jesus and the church. With God’s help you can model the relationship. You will have challenges, but God promises to be with you through it all, just as you today make public your commitment to be with each other through it all.

Enjoy the gift of life. And enjoy the gift of each other. And don’t forget to have fun along the way. Roast a marshmallow or two and have a s’more. And remember, you have this huge community of friends and family here to root you on, to encourage and support you.

Four years later, I can say that his advice was right on. I’m even rather amused now at how apt it was. We are all about “untraditional.” On our wedding day, we spent our time before the ceremony smooching in the hallway, tradition of not seeing each other be damned. At the end of the ceremony, we were introduced as “Jon and Sarah [Lastname], husband and wife” because I absolutely despise the traditional erasing of female identity in announcing them as “Mr. and Mrs. Jon [Lastname].” And to this day, we strive not to fall back on traditional roles in our marriage, but to be who we are, completely and honestly, supporting and encouraging each other and playing to our strengths.

We are also all about FOB time. Through the rigors of residency and the trials of life, our time to relax and recharge together has been fought for fiercely and guarded closely. At the wedding last weekend, one of the bridesmaids, upon learning I was about to celebrate four years of marriage, asked me “Four good years? Was it easy?” I thought for a minute and replied: “Life has sometimes been very hard, but the marriage has been easy.” I know this might not always be the case, that sometimes marriage itself might get hard, but over the past four years, our marriage has been our sanctuary in a life that has sometimes been tumultuous.

And we have, over the past four years, been knit together as a family, one unit. While moving halfway across the country from everyone you know and love is a stressful and hard thing, it was also an immense blessing for us as a newlywed couple. We have been forced to forge together and rely on each other when we had no one else to rely on. We know we that no matter what comes our way, we’re in it together.

I am so happy to look back at how far we’ve come in our marriage over the past four years.  And I’m impressed with how perfectly our ceremony foretold our life together.  Now, I’m off to give Jon the gift I made for him. I promise to tell you all about that tomorrow!

it’s my blog-o-versary!

One year ago today I decided to take the plunge and start blogging. It wasn’t technically my first blog, as I had a Xanga early in my college years but deleted it one day when I got bored with it and slightly weirded out about who was reading it every single day. But I am a writer at heart, and a bit of an attention whore, so eventually I caved to my desire to have a creative outlet and to perhaps spare my husband some of my more long-winded rants (who am I kidding, I often read my blog posts out loud to him because that’s just the kind of girl I am!), and so I started this blog.  Somewhat ironically, my first post was about being “Unplugged” and giving up cable.

I found a ripe source of material fairly early on because I was riding the bus, a daily commute that gave me plenty of fodder for the blog in the form of strange characters, bizarre events, and greater exposure to the city around me, but also greater exposure to everyday sexism and harrassment and fear.

I’ve blogged about some of my greatest fears. I’ve scandalized my husband by using phrases like “flips her shit,” though we’ve now come to an understanding that I’m a PG-13 kind of girl who sometimes uses PG-13 language, and I’ve learned that I should NEVER break news to him on the blog that he hasn’t already heard in person.  And my husband has made a few appearances on the blog, like the time he ordered a nursing cover even though no one around here is anywhere close to pregnant (oh, being married to a pediatrician!).  And I’ve told our love story, mused about becoming “more married,” and written about how our marriage has made me all the more committed to marriage equality for all.

I’ve written about my life as a dog mom, and come to the realization that when it comes to pet ownership, I’m like a male chauvinist pig.

I’ve tackled big issues like abortion and reproductive rights, gender roles, body image, beauty, what people mean when they say “MY America” (that one got me really fired up), rape culture, sexism in advertising, and what exactly are American values.

I’ve undergone a bit of a spiritual revolution in the past year, and gotten excited about new ways of thinking about my faith. I’ve been awe-struck and I’ve been deeply disappointed. I’ve admitted that faith doesn’t always come easily to me, though I keep coming back to it, despite the temptation to run away screaming after seeing a film like “Fireproof.”

I’ve also undergone a revolution in the way I think about and eat food, and I joined a CSA and blogged all along the way, enjoying every bite. A new CSA season started this week, so be on the lookout for lots of posts about me taking on a giant box of veggies.

And then, last week, almost one year to the day I started this blog, I noticed a sudden spike in traffic and checked out the WordPress homepage to see this:

My blog, specifically this post on striving for health vs. striving for fitness, was featured on the WordPress homepage! For two days, my stats went bonkers:

But now things have returned back to normal. Still, it was a huge thrill to see those comments and pageviews pouring in, and I found some cool new WordPress blogs thanks to people who left comments.  All in all, a heckuva way to celebrate one year of blogging.

So, my only blog-birthday wish is to know who some of you people are who read this! I know some of you have never left a comment, and I’d love for you to just say “hi” and let me know who’s out there.  While I’d probably still be writing this thing even if no one was reading, because I’m the type who’d argue with a brick wall, knowing that people read it is a lot of the fun, and I’d love to know who’s out there.